Chennai is one of the few towns still exhibiting a genuine British look in the form of numerous colonial buildings and relics. Many of these locations have adapted so well to the Tamil Nadu way of life that they are now examples of cultural fusion. There are several symbolic landmarks of British colonialism in India. Among them are the majestic buildings reflecting the power of the British Empire that today attract large numbers of tourists visiting the metropolis.

Higginbotham’s bookstore

Colonial Architecture in Chennai - Sheet1
Higginbotham’s bookstore_©By Anna

Higginbotham‘s on Mount Road is one of India’s oldest and most iconic bookshops. The heritage structure of the building also adds to the experience providing an impression of the significant art Deco era. Heavy oak doors, lime-bleached brick walls, and stained-glass windows were standing there while other buildings around her came and disappeared. The roundabout staircase and grandfather clock add to the colonial charm.

Central Railway Station 

Colonial Architecture in Chennai - Sheet2
Central Railway Station_©iStock

The Chennai Railway Station is located in the Chennai district, making it one of the main centres of attraction for travellers. This is one of the busiest stations in India and comes under the jurisdiction of the state of Tamil Nadu. The station is listed under the heritage buildings of Chennai. It is one of the iconic buildings where all passengers enter and explore the city of Chennai by supplying Indian rail services. It was renamed twice; the first was to reflect the change of name from the Madras train station to Chennai Central Station. It is renamed by the government of Chennai under the name of Puratchi Thalaivar Dr. M.G. Ramachandran Central Railway Station, making it the 2nd biggest name of the railway station in the world.

San Thome Church

Colonial Architecture in Chennai - Sheet3
San Thome Church_©

Great, proud, and white, the Basilica of San Thome, as it is called, derives its name from San Thome or Saint Thomas, after whom the church was named. The church is immaculate white from the exterior, with a cool, dark coffee brown ceiling and supporting bows inside. 

Typical of the Gothic Revival architectural style, it sweeps you away with a sense of calm once you enter the church. High in front of the blue horizon of Chennai, the immaculate white structure of the Basilica of San Thome is indeed impressive.

Fort St. George

Colonial Architecture in Chennai - Sheet4
Fort St. George_©Smitha Curie

The fort, built by the East India Company, was originally designed to be a shopping center. It is home to the remains of the British personnel who lived at the fort. Today, the fort museum presents a host of artifacts such as coins, medals, paintings, letters, etc.
There is a banquet room in the fort called Wellesley House, named after Richard Wellesley, Governor General of India. There is a 14.5-foot-high statue of Lord Cornwallis in front of the museum, which is a masterwork of art. It was brought to India from the UK by boat. It is carved with a stage representing Tipu Sultan, his two sons, and officials of the East India Company. 

The importance of the fort has not been undermined by now because it remains an important base for the Indian army.

Ripon Building 

Colonial Architecture in Chennai - Sheet5
Ripon Building_©Makemytrip

The Ripon Building is a beautiful Indo-Saracenic architecture structure, a sweet blend of Ionic, Gothic, and Corinthian. This all-white building is the headquarters of the Chennai or Madras Corporation in the town of Chennai (Madras), Tamil Nadu. Ripon building is a beautiful structure in white colour, this rectangular building is 85 meters long and 32 meters wide. It has a tower in the centre of the building with a clock. The tower is 43 meters in diameter, and the clock is 2.5 Mts. The building is three stories. The first story is approximately 30139 square feet.

The walls of this well-known building are made of brick, and the roof is made of teak wood. The ground was initially made of a slate called Cuddapah slate, replaced by a marble floor. The main structure will also be renovated.

The Ripon Building is the first Indian heritage building to receive funding to renovate the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

St. Mary Church

Colonial Architecture in Chennai - Sheet6
St. Mary Church_©

St Mary’s Church in Fort St George was the first Anglican church constructed in India in 1680. That is always one of the most beautiful examples in India. Designed to catch even the slightest hint of a breeze off the sea, a haven of relative freshness in the hustle and bustle of a southern Indian summer. 

The interior of the church presents remarkably beautiful examples of funeral sculpture, including works by John Flaxman, John Bacon, Edward Richardson, and Sir Francis Chantrey. Near the podium is the anonymous tomb of Lord Pigot, a controversial governor of Madras.

Victoria Public Hall

Victoria Public Hall_©

From Moore Market to Chennai Central Station on Poonamallee Road is a large colonial building, the Victoria Public Hall. This building was built in remembrance of the golden jubilee of Empress Victoria. Victoria Public Hall is also referred to as City Hall.

The architectural design for Victoria Hall was designed by Robert Fellowes Chisholm. The city hall was built with red brick and lime mortar paint; this building has a Travancore-style roof. The City Hall room has a seating arrangement of approximately 600 persons at one end, and the first floor has approximately 200 persons overall. The building houses terracotta paintings and Islamic calligraphy. The lounge has four stairways. One of the stairs leads to the balcony, and another to the terrace. The well-known Trevelyan Fountain is located in the lobby of the Victorian Public Hall.



Juhi Goyal is a budding architect as well as a passionate poet. She believes that as an architect, you should be courageous enough to find something you love. She is a curious learner with the aim to improve her design skills, to maintain her creative spirit. Apart from architecture, she is a poet and has a keen interest in the exploration of new places and people.